Possumhaw: Nothing lasts forever



Shannon Bardwell



"You can work on your breath no matter where you are or what you are doing. Sometimes a deep breath can be the difference between getting stuck in a stressful moment and finding calm on the other side."


Joanna Gaines, Magnolia Magazine




It was 1998 and life was busy, often hectic, when I stepped into a small bookstore off the cobblestone street in Clinton, Mississippi. There I discovered "The Art of Doing Nothing," by Veronique Vienne. I was intrigued by the title and the beautiful cover. I like to judge a book by its cover, so I bought it.


You know when you're not living slow, because slowing down is not easy; in fact, it can be unnerving. I wasn't doing it very well back then, but it seems like that's exactly what we are doing now. Maybe as life gears up again we can savor and save a bit of what we've learned about slowing down. Maybe we won't have to be forced to slow down. Maybe we won't have to slow down to a complete standstill.


Occasionally, when friends say they are busy to the point of exhaustion, I quote Psalm 23: "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures." Better to slow down than to be "maketh."


Veronique has some constructive tips on the art of doing nothing. I thought I'd share:


The art of procrastinating -- Repressing impulses is just as much a workout as indulging them. ... Working against the relentless pressure of our own self-imposed guilt can burn a lot of calories. Rather than rummaging through the mail looking for a check or paying bills, clean out your sock drawer or change the bag in the vacuum cleaner. Learn to whistle, watch the sunset, plant something.


The art of breathing -- We exhale and release into the atmosphere carbon-dioxide, a chemical that promotes growth of plants and prevents the sun's radiant energy returning to space. With our breath, we keep the planet from becoming a desert. Think of breathing as giving, not taking.


The art of meditating -- The root word of meditating is the same as the root word of medicine. If it could be bottled, then harmless and effective meditation could be sold as an over-the-counter drug. Just get comfortable, be quiet, think pleasant thoughts or none at all, slow your body and mind. You may have some enlightened thoughts, like maybe you're just an ordinary person and it's OK.


The art of lounging -- Have a hectic day or a lot on your mind? Lie down with your center of gravity as close to the ground as possible, or sit in the porch swing or your favorite chair. Just stay put for awhile and don't do anything.


The art of yawning -- As a fitness routine yawning is quite effective. It's a mysterious reflex connected to health. Open wide and unhinge your jaw. Yawning can be sort of like yoga without the postures. Yawning is also contagious. No one is sure why.


These are the first five practices. Possibly I'll share five more next week. But for now, I thought I'd go organize the broom closet or clean out my purse.





Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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